When do you expect age-appropriate social skills of your children?
Do you mean being polite? My toddlers are able to be polite because, as babies. I teach them what to say. My two-year-old greets people on Saturday with “Shabbat Shalom,” and knows “I’m sorry,” “I forgive you,” “Hello,” “Thank you,” and “Please.” All of mine have had this skill from very young. My daughter is very introverted and a good judge of character – as well as amazingly boundaried – and I never force my young children to do these things, so she often didn’t.
Just the other day, though, we were at her friend’s birthday party and she went to her and said, “Thank you for inviting me to your lovely birthday party.” All three of my children thanked Tonya for inviting us to her Passover meal.
When will my child accept “No” for an answer appropriately?
By appropriately, I assume you mean without arguing or throwing a fit? I am open to reasonable negotiation, with no promises of a changed mind. I tend to have “No” be a first reaction, and so I’ve learned to pause and think about things. If I’m not sure, I tell them I’ll think about it. I remember telling my 4-year-old, “No,” and she said, “Can you just think about it instead?”
When they have a very emotional reaction, I see that as an indicator of how important the thing is to them. If it’s really not a big deal to me, then I try to find a way to make it happen – but not as a response to the emotional outburst. That must end, and they must be appropriately behaving before we will even talk about it. Aidan will sometimes drop down and cry silently at a “No,” and Fiona will sometimes cry still, but she accepts it; Liam usually responds with a “Yes, Mama.” When he doesn’t, it’s because he believes he’s been misunderstood and often that is the case.
Part of it is that I don’t see myself as dictator in the home. I’m the coach (along with my husband) and we want everyone to win, so “No” isn’t the same here as it is in some homes. I’m willing to admit when I’ve made a mistake or reacted rashly. My children also know that I’m not a pushover, nor do I do everything to make them happy, so it’s not a power struggle or a lay down. We work on resolution.
How old were your children when they put away their own toys?
My children are capable of doing this as toddlers. I have a lot of health issues and am not always the most organized or scheduled person, so it’s hard to expect this from them. As I’ve gotten better about keeping up on things, they’ve gotten better. Right now, we’re dealing with the complications of one play room for everyone. At the same time, all I have to do is call a “pick up,” and everyone will gather the toys from throughout the house and get them back in the playroom.
I also have a rule that, before large manipulative toys may come out, the toyroom has to be cleaned up; my children choose to clean or find something else to play with. Liam is capable of cleaning by himself, but he’s an extrovert and prefers company; Fiona still needs some help; Aidan can clean up, but is a little young to know all that goes into it to do a great job.